Saturday, March 08, 2008
Five war medals belonging to a Scottish sailor have sold for a record price at auction. George MacKenzie Samson from Carnoustie in Angus was awarded the decorations, including a Victoria Cross, for his bravery during World War One. In 1915, during the Gallipoli landings, he helped rescue wounded men despite coming under heavy fire. The medals were expected to fetch £180,000 at most but were bought by Lord Ashcroft for £247,000. The group of medals, comprising the Victoria Cross, the 1914-15 Star, the War medal, the Victory medal, and French Medaille Militaire, broke the price record for a British sale.
George MacKenzie Samson's war medalsSeaman Samson was shot about 19 times during the Gallipoli landings, leading the surgeon treating him to wonder whether he would pull through. However Dr P Burrowes-Kelly said: "Whether he lived or died I knew he had won the VC." The sailor died in 1923 after falling ill with double pneumonia during a voyage with the Merchant Navy. He was buried with full military honours on Bermuda. His medals were bought by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, who has been collecting Victoria Crosses for twenty years and has the largest privately-formed collection in the world. Petty Officer George MacKenzie Samson Michael Naxton, who is the curator of Lord Ashcroft's Victoria Cross collection and bid at the auction said: "Lord Ashcroft is passionately interested in the Victoria Cross and the men who won it, and he regards the landings at Gallipoli in April 1915 has one of the most iconic events in modern British military history. "He has been determined for some years to try to gather as many of the Victoria Crosses that were won on that fateful day as he possibly can. "He was really thrilled to hear the news that Samson's was coming up for sale. "He is now able to put Samson's group of medals with five other Victoria Crosses all won on that same day." Lord Ashcroft has plans to put his entire collection on public display in a custom-built home, probably in London. He hopes to have the museum open by 2010.